Second chances

As I write this, two victims of human trafficking are about to graduate from their one-month on-the-job training at Fernandina 888 Hotel in Cubao, Quezon City. I am proud of these two women. They have been through a lot. One of them was physically abused while in Malaysia. The other one was falsely accused by her employer which led to her arrest and incarceration. Both women are now reunited with their families and enrolled in our training program specifically tailored for victims of trafficking and illegal recruitment.

In a few weeks, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center headed by yours truly, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority led by Director-General Joel Villanueva, formerly CIBAC party-list representative, will start a pilot project that would offer distressed OFWs and their families a menu of second chances.

In partnership with the Asian School of Hospitality Arts, a sister company of the Center for Culinary Arts and the Cravings chain of restaurants, our wards at the Ople Center would now be able to enroll as scholars in short courses such as baristas, executive housekeeping, hotel bookkeeping, kitchen work, professional culinary arts, and front desk managers.

In partnership with e-Scribr Inc, a Makati-based business process outsourcing company engaged in medical and other transcription services, OFW dependents would soon be accepted as our scholars for call center-related services.

And still in partnership with Hotel Fernandina 888, we would be able to provide on-the-job training on housekeeping hotel work.

The Blas F. Ople Center continues to keep an eye out for prospective businesses that could offer on-the-job training for skilled OFWs who have since returned to our country but have not been successful on the job front. By re-tooling their skills and restoring their confidence, we hope to be able to provide them with second chances at a new career, and in remaking themselves from victims to success stories, from retirees to productive individuals, and from the hopelessly desperate to the hopefully determined.

I have seen how gaining new skills as basic as turning on the computer and learning how to use Microsoft Word had opened new doors to over 20,000 graduates under the Microsoft-OWWA-Ople Center’s Tulay computer literacy program. Administering this program is like giving eyeglasses to a person with a blurred vision, and did not even know it.

This is why I am just as excited over these upcoming partnerships for skills and development training for our modern-day heroes including those who were not too successful in their desire to work abroad. Imagine a former household service worker learning how to become a professional cook! Or for an out-of-school child of an OFW who never made it past college, learn how to whip up a delicious cappuccino for yuppie customers. Or that of a retired OFW, highly-skilled and educated, who can now accept transcription jobs while working from home.  Indeed, given the right skills training, the possibilities for second chances are endless.

For those interested to learn more about our new scholarship programs for OFWs and their dependents, please visit my blog at or call up the Blas F. Ople Center at 833-5337. Please note that we would be prioritizing the trafficked victims under our care as our initial batch of scholars. We will also have a selection committee to process the applications of succeeding batches. Second chances don’t come easy. A prospective scholar would also need to demonstrate to us his or her willingness to learn, and desire to rise above present circumstances. Let me thank Edwin Fallorina of e-scribir and my good friend, Ricky Rivera of the Asian School of Hospitality Arts and of course, Director-General Joel Villanueva of TESDA for working with the Ople Center on this worthy project. Special mention also goes to Jojo Alvarado, owner of Hotel Fernandina 888 for helping our two wards complete their one-month course.

In life, it is important to keep on going no matter how great the temptation to quit. I have had my own share of difficulties, but the load is always lighter when shared with the Almighty. And so here’s a heads up to all those who feel that life is no longer worth living, that the end of the road is here, and that the white flag of surrender  must now be hoisted – living your life no matter what is your best guarantee that the best is yet to come. Don’t be afraid to take detours. Don’t close your mind to new possibilities. You and you alone, define your life.

Know that with God, nothing is impossible. Believe in that. Whatever your status in life, and no matter how you got there, remember that there is always room for second chances.

Personal Note: This writer will give a lecture on effective communications together with Manila Standard columnist Jojo Robles and DZBB anchor  Jimmy Gil. The seminar, entitled, “Media Relations 101”, will be held on October 21 at the Astoria Hotel. For more information, please text Estelle of Biz Whiz consultancy via 09178594891 or call landline numbers 5450934/9759559.

(Send your comments to Follow me thru

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

Share This Post On
  • “Don’t close your mind to new possibilities.”

    How I love this phrase, madam.

    We should always think out of the box, and must realize that there is more that life has in store for us. A seeing eye, and a hearing ear, the Lord has given them both for us.

  • good day Mam!
    i’m an avid reader of Sunday Issue of Manila Bulletin and of your Panorama Magazine Column for a long time as well as i’m a die-hard supporter of your late father,
    i just want to ask about the training program your office offers to those who want to gain OJT and Short-Course knowledge about Barista,Housekeeping,etc.,thank you in advance for your immediate response and more power!!!